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Peñitas City Council waits for potential water plant

Peñitas City Council met Wed., Feb. 7, and discussed the potential to apply for a loan or grant program in order to create a water plant, as well as an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with the City of La Joya.

The council had a conversation about the potential of working with Agua Special Utility District (SUD) in building a water plant for the city, and what steps need to be taken to make that happen. According to City Manager Omar Romero, the city is still in discussion with Agua SUD on the matter.

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“We’re still having negotiations with them on moving forward,” Romero said. “It might be a little bit premature. Plus, I know that our anticipation is to buy all of our water in bulk for the first several years before we actually commit ourselves.”

Romero said that the decision rested with the council if they wanted to go down the route of checking with the Water Development Board and try to apply for the loan or grant at this time, or finish negotiating with Agua SUD before taking any action.

“I think at this time, I think we need authorization by Agua,” Mayor Rodrigo Lopez said. “I don’t think we want to be in the same boat that Palmview is in right now and try to jump the gun on something that’s not there yet. We haven’t gotten full approval from Agua SUD yet.”

The council carried the motion to table the discussion until more information was made available.

The first Interlocal Cooperation Agreement discussed in the meeting had to do with automatic fire department aid, as sometimes when a fire is called in the La Joya Fire Department is dispatched, despite being within the city of Peñitas.

This agreement would allow La Joya to go to the scene, extinguish the flame and perform a live rescue until the Peñitas department can arrive at the scene. The jurisdiction would still be with the city of Peñitas, so they would prepare the fire report and file it with the state and federal government.

The objective of this agreement is to cut down on response time and ensure public safety. Because the city attorney Armando Marroquin was not present at the meeting, and according to substitute attorney Richard Gonzalez, had not fully gone over the agreement, the discussion was tabled until further notice.

The council also approved a new work plan through the Urban County Program, which would allocate $3,000 for general administration, and $252,000 for Parks and Recreation.

“The plan is to utilize the funds to develop a park behind the proposed city hall property,” Romero said. “We’re also in negotiation for another piece of property at the moment, but with $250,000, we feel confident that between parking facilities and park facilities for athletics, we could construct a good park with that money.”

At the beginning of the meeting, council member Ramiro Quintanilla brought up that the citations being given in the city per month changed from officer to officer and asked why certain officers had drastically higher numbers than others. Some officers issued 163 to 191 citations, while others issued 53 to 58.

“It depends on the shift,” said Police Chief Roel Bermea. “Some people work later, and there’s not too much traffic, so they’re concentrating on residential areas to prevent burglaries and what not.”

The last matter brought up before the council went into executive session was an Interlocal Cooperative Agreement in regards to the operation of a Regional Animal Shelter.

Currently, the city of Peñitas has an agreement with Palm Valley Animal Shelter, so when animals are picked up, they can be taken to Palm Valley. Before, every time Palm Valley came in, there was a fee per animal. This new agreement would create a set fee of $1900 per month that would cover all animals, rather than a per-animal fee.

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